Columbus Cottonmouths coach Jerome Bechard tried to be positive after his team lost a 2-1 heartbreaker to the visiting Mississippi RiverKings at the Snake Pit on Friday night.
"I saw a lot of good things out there," Bechard said.
Bechard then paused before summing up the difficult loss.
"I'd rather lose 10-0 than lose this way," Bechard said. "We gave them two goals, one from a turnover at the red line and the other after a turnover at the blue line."
After a scoreless first, the struggling Snakes took a 1-0 lead on Jordan Draper's third goal of the season at the 7:43 mark of the second period. After an intense second, things started to unravel in the third.
"The first two periods we played very well," Bechard said. "In the third we fell back to old habits: turnovers, lack of awareness and not having a sense of urgency. We shot ourselves in the foot."
Bechard didn't attribute the team's problems to growing pains. Both costly turnovers were committed by experienced players.
Assistant captain Levi Lind, in his fifth Snakes season, coughed the puck up at the red line late in the second period. Mississippi's Todd Hosmer went top shelf against rookie goaltender Travis Bosch to tie the game 1-1.
"Travis played phenomenal," Bechard said. "He held them to two goals when it could have been a lot worse. We gave them the win tonight."
With the game tied beginning the third period, the Snakes stepped up their physical game. Only three minor penalties were called in the game, none in the third. Matt Gingera delivered a solid hip check early in the period, followed by a big hit by Daniel Amesbury and one by Alex Gallant. Defenseman Chris Bailer blocked several shots, including one midway through the third.
Referee Pete MacDougall put away his whistle in the third, allowing Snakes newcomer Tyler Djurich to be slammed to the ice and Columbus' Tory Allan to take out the Kings' Daniel Sabotka.
A turnover at the blue line by forward Dan Bremner set up a breakaway by Charles LaChance, who slid the puck by Bosch and into the corner of the net for the 2-1 lead.
The Snakes pulled Bosch with 1:13 to play but couldn't score the equalizer.
The Snakes have now lost three in a row and five of their last six. They've captured only two of a possible 12 points during the slump.
They head to Fayetteville on Saturday night for their third game in three nights. The last Cottonmouths victory came in a shootout at home on Nov. 22 against the FireAntz.
The offense is suffering from a lack of production during the past three games. The Snakes were shut out last Saturday in Fayetteville and scored a single goal in Huntsville on Friday and against the Kings.
After the three-game weekend ends Saturday night in Fayetteville, the Snakes have only one game next weekend. They travel to Knoxville on Saturday night.
The next home game is Friday, Dec. 13 against Knoxville. Game time is 7:30 p.m.
Mississippi RiverKings 0 0 2--2
Columbus 0 1 0--1
First period--None. Penalties--Maldonado, Columbus (high-sticking) :59.
Second period--1, Columbus, Draper (Allan, Gray) 7:43. PPG. Penalties--Banfield, Mississippi (slashing) 3:12; Gallant, Columbus (fighting) 6:03; Fulton, Mississippi (fighting) 6:03; Banfield, Mississippi (interference) 6:39.
Third period--2, Mississippi, Hosmer (unassisted) 1:59, 3, Mississippi, LaChance (unassisted) 18:21. Penalties--None.
Power plays: Columbus 1 of 2; Mississippi 0 of 1.
Goaltenders: Bosch (loss) 58:47 28 26 2; Krahn (win) 60:00 23 22 1.